Archive for March, 2011

My 1990’s Hudson’s Building Street Art Project

March 29, 2011

on the Woodward side

Back in the mid-1990’s, I ended up taking over Detroit’s J.L. Hudson’s Building.  For a few years, it was my “outdoor art studio.”  I’d just go down there to work.

It was a different time.  I never got any permission and I never got arrested.

It started when a group project, the “Detroit Heroes Murals” was painted over with no warning.  I don’t even have a photo of my completed (painted) murals for Detroit musicians Tommy Flanagan and Little Willie John.  I thought that this was an insult to the artists who worked hard, for no pay.  This was likely in 1995.

So I started drawing on it in chalk, in protest.  I ended up spending much of my time there.  This was primarily in 1996 and 1997.  It was a lot of hard work.  I ended up interacting with the homeless people who were living in the building.  It was constant “street theatre” and a real adventure.

I got involved with the people who were trying to save the building (and met many of those who wanted it to go).

I was inspired by Tyree Guyton, Sam Mackey and the Heidelberg Project.  Also, I’d seen Keith Haring’s subway chalk drawings.  That was similar, in that it was line drawings on a black background, like a chalk board.  Then too, I was used to using chalk as I’d done a large series of sidewalk drawings, most of which I’d photographed.

In late 1998, it was destroyed aka “imploded.”

Since its destruction, there’ve been several “tribute exhibits” including photos of my work.  I was included in a short documentary film on the building.  I also did a radio essay for our local NPR station WDET on what it was like drawing on the building.  I wrote a poem about the experience which was included in the anthology Abandon Automobile.

A lot of people had taken photos of my drawings on the Hudson’s Building.  If you have any, I’d like to see them sometime.

Within the next few months, I’ll have a section on this at my University of Detroit Mercy site.  When it appears, I’ll post a link to it here.